Riding my bike to conquer cancer

Today was my second chemotherapy cycle of eight. It went smoothly, although my arm is a little bit sore from the IV drugs. I’m looking forward to getting my port installed so I can upload the chemo drugs more efficiently and with less burnination of the countryside (aka my veins).

So I’m doing fine, and the doctor and nurse figure my hair will start falling out in clumps very soon with this treatment. Things are progressing as they should.

The Ride

For the past few years, my good friend Elijah has been taking part in the British Columbia Ride to Conquer Cancer. The first year, he was not a long distance cyclist and I watched him train and fundraise like crazy until he was ready. And then he did it, and was awesome. And then he kept doing it year after year, and I remained impressed.

When I had lunch with him early on during my cancer diagnosing phase, he told me I should join him in the 2014 ride. I had joked in the past that I might do just that someday, but I was honestly terrified of the fundraising requirement — $2500 minimum to be able to join the ride. They take their fundraising seriously, and I was severely intimidated.

With cancer and chemotherapy looming ahead of me, I thought about that barrier, and the fact that I don’t own a road/commuter bike anymore (another barrier) and thought, hey… why not? When I couldn’t come up with a real reason beyond those to things I was afraid of (raising $2500 and budgeting for a bike), I realized that they were just that — fears — and if I could get through the cancer and chemo experience, budgeting and fundraising would be a breeze.

So I said yes.

BC Ride to Conquer Cancer

I am now fundraising and thinking about what bike to buy and trying to put aside money for said bike and thinking about training for a 200 km ride over two days from Vancouver to Seattle. The ride isn’t until June, so I have time to finish my chemo and do some solid training, once I get a bike. I’ve nearly met the $2500 minimum, and if I do I will increase my personal goal and do my best to meet it before June.

This is important to me because so far science has done a bang-up job of figuring out what’s wrong with me through some amazing diagnosis tools and tests, an impressive collection of anti-cancer drugs with a side order of anti-nausea drugs, and a whole team of incredibly awesome people — doctors and nurses, researchers, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, and so many more — whose jobs are to cure me. I want to give back to the science that has done so much for me, and I need your help to do it.

After kicking cancer’s ass, riding 200 km in two days will be so easy. Right? Right?

I hope so. If nothing else, I feel inspired to get there. If you’d like to help, please consider a donation… and thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far.

A perfect May Day

We woke up this morning to sunshine in the form of a 2 year old demanding that we “get up, it’s morning, wake up now please, it’s time to wake up!” We rolled out of bed and stumbled to the living room, being pulled the whole way by a very awake little girl who wanted to watch videos, please. She had, after all, slept in till 7:45, so why were we being so lethargic?

Videos were watched as we, the so-called adults in the house, tried to clear our heads and figure out what to do with a sunny Sunday morning. We scrapped our original plan to catch a ferry to the Sunshine Coast and check out the MuddBunnies racing at the Sunshine Coaster DH, opting instead to either visit the petting zoo / farm on the north shore or take a bike ride with the girl and her chariot.

When faced with the options of checking out animals at the farm or going bike riding the forest, Lyra responded with an adamant and forceful cry of “Go for a bike ride!” so our plans were set. First order of business, however, was naptime. For everyone. For two hours. Lyra napped in her room, Adam napped on one half of the L-shaped couch, I napped on the other half of said couch, and Sera the cat napped on my head.

With that out of the way, the whole family (minus Sera) piled into the car with our bikes and trailer to head to the Lower Seymour Conservation Forest, with a short coffee stop along the way. The winding forest trails in the LSCR are perfect for a couple of mountain bikes towing a double trailer, and the paved road trail into the woods allows for plenty of opportunities to go very, very fast. Lyra likes to go very, very fast.

We stopped somewhere down the paved trail past Rice Lake at a deserted little picnic spot. There was sunlight shining down through the break in the trees above us and a little creek called Balloon Creek right next to it. It was, in a word, idyllic.

We ran in circles and played chase with Lyra; we climbed down to the creek and threw leaves into it to see how far they could flow with the water; we swatted at mosquitoes too young to know how to bite us. The air was clean and the sun warm on our faces.

The three of us – Father, Mother, Daughter – lay down together laughing in the grass and looked up at the beautiful blue sky. As we watched, a bald eagle glided above us, and we agreed – at least Adam and I did – that we couldn’t imagine being, or living, anywhere else right now. We just assumed the same of Lyra, since she’s only two and has never lived anywhere else. We were together, surrounded by forest and mountains, with eagles looking down on us, and nothing could be more perfect.

Lyra seemed to agree, since the idea of getting back into the trailer and heading back to the car was one she was violently opposed to. When we told her that we’d get sushi with Uncle Jordy, she was more willing to leave. There’s nothing like bribing a toddler with the promise of her favourite uncle as motivation to move.

Fortunately for all of us, it was a promise we were able to keep. We turned our bikes around and raced at top speed back to the car. I may have mentioned before that Lyra likes going very, very fast, but to be fair, she comes by it naturally. We were back at the car in no time, and off to pick up her favourite uncle and get some fabulous North Vancouver sushi for dinner.

We topped off the evening with bubble tea for dessert, and called it a day – a perfect day. It seems that all we need for a perfect day are the following:

  1. Sunshine
  2. Casual, agile plans
  3. Good coffee
  4. Bikes
  5. Mountains, forests, and life around us
  6. Family
  7. Sushi
  8. Bubble tea

What makes your day perfect?

Please sponsor my crazy bike commute in support of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday

There are a lot of reasons to preserve the environment. It’s good to have clean air to breath, water to drink, and healthy food to eat. I’m a big fan of these things.

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about driving to work occasionally, so I’ve decided to offset it by riding in to the office. I used to ride all the time, of course – but that was before I lived over 30km and many hills away from work. That’s over 60km of riding to top and tail a full workday… and I’m out of shape.

When I decided to do some fundraising for the David Suzuki Foundation, I realized that I needed a goal to work towards – so if you sponsor me in support of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday this Thursday, I promise to bike to work – the full 60+ km – one day this spring. If it doesn’t kill me, maybe I’ll do it more than once!

The funds I raise will go towards the Foundation’s mission for a healthy environment – because a healthy environment equals healthy people. Pollution can cause all sorts of health problems like cancer and asthma; wouldn’t it be great if those issues went away at the source?

Please help me reach my goal and force me onto my bike this spring, and help support the work of the David Suzuki Foundation for David’s 75th birthday. Please sponsor me.

Every little bit counts, and thanks so much! If you aren’t able to sponsor me, you can heckle me into riding…

Weekly bike ride with Lyra

I’ve just returned from what I hope will be a weekly (or near-weekly) bike ride with Lyra in the Lower Seymour Conservation Forest. It was awesome – she fell asleep for the first half of the ride, which was fine. We got up near Rice Lake, where she woke up and we found a group of moms and their toddlers (the same age as Lyra) hanging out in a pretty gazebo (I was happy to not face the Gazebo alone.) She spent some time playing with the other kids and their toys, and I sat on a bench and introduced myself to the other moms. Mostly I just felt out of place though… I never did do well in so-called normal groups of women talking about mom things.

Otherwise, though, we have a lovely bike ride through the woods. I’m so tempted to go back and do it tomorrow, or maybe Sunday while Adam’s riding Fromme. Perhaps we can work it out so I drop him off and head over to the LSCR with Lyra. Hmm, that might just work.

I feel awesome, and the weather was gorgeous, and the route I took was just fantastic. I can’t wait to get out there and do it again.

You can see our route and speed and all that fun stuff because I tracked it all with my phone.

Sometimes I get angry

Lately I’ve been feeling angry more often than I usually do. considering the fact that it normally takes a lot to try my patience, I guess that means it doesn’t take a lot to be more often than usual… For instance, my phone (on which i am typing this) has suddenly stopped autocompleting words and making the first letter of my sentences uppercase. it’s making me angry. Expect typos in this entry. [Edited to fix all the typos and lower-case letters – they made me crazy.]

Some of my rage is probably a little bit justified, at least, but most of it seems pretty irrational. Maybe I’m burnt out on work, and I definitely don’t get enough sleep or exercise. I should probably make an effort to remedy these things. I am for exercise, at least… will be on my bike more now that the weather is getting nicer.

I’m also feeling totally ready for a change of location. North Vancouver is awesome in many ways, but i feel ready to try someplace new.

The crazy thing is, I’ve lived in the same apartment for nearly five and a half years. That’s the second longest I have ever lived anywhere in my entire life (the longest was seven years in Iroquois, Ontario as a teenager). I feel like it’s an accomplishment to put down roots in one home for this long… but I am definitely restless.

Maybe it’s just this restlessness coming out as anger. I don’t quite know. I have some time off work coming up, which wil hopefully help me unwind some, but i don’t think work stress is the root cause.

I have to change buses now. maybe will feel like writing more later.

Fitness in the world of mommyhood

SpokesLet me be honest with you – I am terrible at fitness. I have been for as long as I can remember. I hated gym class in public & high school. I have had gym memberships on more than one occasion and actually gone to the gym twice at most, each time. I decided to take up running and did it once (after buying pricey running shoes!) There is a distinct lack of fitness regimen in my life.

It’s not that I’m in terrible shape; I’m not. Neither am I in good shape. I have weirdness in my left knee & hip that makes it hard to crouch or climb stairs at times. I can’t run unless my life depends on it. I get winded if I climb a lot of stairs. And if you go by general standards of female shape and body, I have more weight on me than is ideal. I suppose that makes me just about average.

It’s in my nature, however, to compare myself to everyone around me. I compare myself when I’m riding my bike to the people who ride past me effortlessly on the uphill, and feel like I’m falling short. I follow it up with reasons why I’m not – at least I’m ON my bike, and I’m doing a near 15k ride each way to get to and from work, up and down mountains and bridges, and hey, I haven’t actually been bike commuting in two years and they’re doing it way more often, and some of them are crazy roadies and I’ll never keep up with them even if I want to. But all of these thoughts come after the fact, and while they help, the initial feeling of losing some sort of competition in my head (stupid competitive head) is not really a good one.

I’ve been realizing for the past year or two (not including pregnancy time) that I am quite simply thinner in my mind than I actually am. I think you’re supposed to feel the opposite, according to what all the magazines say anyhow, but that’s not for me. I assume I’m pretty slim, and then see a photo of myself and think “holy crap I’m SO much bigger than I think I am!” On top of that, I’m realizing that in my general age group among the other women at work (and I work with a lot of women) I’m on the larger scale. It is very unsettling to think you’re one size and realize that you’re not – even when you think you’re thin.

Earlier in the spring I signed up to do core conditioning clinics with a group of women, specifically designed to condition you for mountain biking. I actually rather enjoyed it, and stuck with it I think because it was a class format that a friend was also taking, and I had paid to go to the class, which commits me to going on two levels. You might think that paying for a gym membership would provide the same commitment, but it really doesn’t. At any rate, this wasn’t about weight loss, it was about strengthening and conditioning. And it was good, but I haven’t lost weight.

I considered a mommy boot camp type thing, and even signed up for one, but it was cancelled before it even began. After that I realized that a boot camp is probably not for me anyway – I don’t like exercising, and turning it into some sort of military training thing just bothers me on so many levels.

Those conditioning clinics are still happening, but with the car purchase we’re not in any place for me to rejoin them. It’s possible in a few months we’ll work out how to fit it in, but right now it’s not an option. So I’ve decided in the meantime that my only real option for cardio fitness is the biking to and from work, which I restarted doing this week.

On Monday I rode to work, then went downtown on my bike at lunchtime, then back to work, and then did a partial ride home (combined with transit.) It felt good, and I was exhausted. Yesterday I took transit as usual. Today I rode again, this time managing to go both to and from work. It felt great, and wasn’t as hard as on Monday. It’s amazing how fast you acclimatize to that kind of exertion.

My ride isn’t really a short one. I measured it out once on google maps, and it came to about 14.5 km one way. There is uphill and downhill in both directions, although it’s slightly more downhill on the way there, and thus slightly more uphill on the way home. It takes me just under an hour to do the ride at the moment – probably about 45 – 50 minutes.

This means I’m doing an hour and a half of cardio on a bike every time I ride. I have no idea if this will help me lose weight. I’m not entirely certain that losing weight is what I want to do – people keep telling me I look like I’ve lost weight, but I haven’t actually lost a pound in about 6 months now. My shape has definitely changed since before the pregnancy, and I’m down to my pre-pregnancy weight without really having to work at it (probably because of breastfeeding, but who knows).

So without cash to join a class, I’m hoping that my riding to and from work can be some sort of fitness regimen. If I lose weight, that would be awesome. If I tone up and look better, that would also rock. If I lose a size, that would be nice too. But really, what I want is to be able to play with Lyra and keep up with her at least a bit. She’s an active little monkey, and I don’t want to be a couch potato for her life. The biking will help, I just hope it’s enough. I don’t have the money (or, to be honest, want to spare any more time away from Lyra) to get a personal trainer or join hardcore classes. Plus, I don’t wanna.

Except that part of my brain that’s comparing me to everyone else and saying I fall short. I’ll just continue telling that part to shut the hell up.

Weekends of excitement

The summer is basically over now. While officially I know that summer doesn’t end until the 21st of September, in my mind it’s always over when Labour Day weekend is done – I still live in my head in a world where the school year reigns supreme. Luckily for me, this will work well since I have a child, who will be on a school year schedule in a few short years.

We ended the summer well with a trip to Vancouver island – biking in Cumberland and at Mount Washington with the Muddbunnies riding club, of which I’m a member. I only made it out to one ride with them all summer, but that’s just how things worked out this year. At least I got to go on the biking trip with them all. It was spouse-friendly, so Adam and Lyra came along and we rode with Bunnies and some of their boys.

The first day was a road trip to the island with Steve and Susan. We caught an early afternoon ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo after loading up the car (and going through hoops to get our bikes over to the island in addition to ourselves, but that’s just a frustrating complication that got dealt with effectively.) It was gorgeous and hot and sunny, and the ferry ride was nice. Lyra spent a lot of time holding our hands and walking.

That’s right, walking. She’s started to let go and stumble drunkenly towards us if we’re within a few feet of her. She’s done a few good faceplants into the carpet. She’s also insistent, now, that she be allowed to walk whenever she likes – and she’s moved from holding us with both hands to holding on with one hand. She also likes to walk up and down stairs, although she isn’t particularly good at it yet. She now has some lovely little brown and pink shoes, since the Robeez aren’t going to work when the rains come.

Lyra’s first steps were on the biking trip, which is pretty awesome. Her first words were also on the trip – she said nana (in reference to a banana, specifically) and she pointed at the bike in one of her storybooks and said “Bike!” I think it’s pretty fitting that she said bike on a bike trip.

That was over a week ago, and now she basically says bike in reference to nearly everything, in addition to bikes. She points at fish and says bike. She points at a rock and says bike. Too funny.

Adam’s mom Tyna is visiting now. Chances are good Lyra will take more independent steps while she’s here. That should be nice.

Oh yeah, and I finally got around to posting my bike up on the Buy & Sell on the mountain biking forum page. If you know any Vancouver area folks looking for a good all mountain type bike, share this link with them. If I sell that bike, I can buy a bike rack and go out with my other newer bike. Hooray for biking!!

Photos from our biking trip to the south Chilcotins

I’ve been so disconnected lately. I don’t feel like posting anything, but I’m starting to feel weird about not being connected to people anymore – like if I don’t post then I’ll be forgotten. A bit pathetic of me, but hey.

I really do want to write about the mountain bike trip in the chilcotins. It was awesome, and it was incredibly difficult. I took many photos, which are all online of course:

We did 99.5 km over five days of riding in mountainous terrain. We went over three passes and down into three valleys. We gained something like 700 metres of elevation three times or so. And I was the slowest on the uphill, and just generally at the back of the group the whole time, but I was out there and I did it – so I’m rather impressed with myself.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been back home for two weeks now, and I’ve spent this week back at work, and I feel slow and tired and fat and insecure. Oh yeah and I’m pretty sure no one likes me. Logically speaking I know better. Emotionally I haven’t quite convinced myself.

It’s been nice to be back at work. I have to make a decision by Monday whether I want to keep both jobs I have at work and continue with a five day work week. I don’t really want to give up the Communications work – it’s interesting and makes me feel like I’m more connected to a team, instead of working on my own. The Admin stuff is pretty solitary – I talk to lots of people on the phone, but I don’t work directly with people. I kind of like doing that. But I’m also tired, and I really enjoyed having four day work weeks, and having Friday all to myself to do whatever I wanted, all alone. I miss that. But I make more working the five days, which is helpful, and I like doing the communications job. Yeah. I don’t know. I’ll probably keep the five days, I guess. I do miss my Fridays, though.

Shawn (Adam’s brother) is currently living with us until he finds a place and/or job. Job might turn out to be easier to find than place, as he owns two cats and wants to spend $700/mo. and not in Surrey (or outlying areas, including Coquitlam and Port Moody and so on. North Van okay.)

I am now very sleepy and kind of grumpy. I think I shall go to bed before I get annoyed at things.